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The 25 Best Video Games of 2016
The 25 Best Video Games of 2016

5

Assault Android Cactus

Developer Witch Beam’s Assault Android Cactus is one of the most emotional shooters of all time. The game supercharges the drama of destroying the hundreds of foes that pour into any given level by requiring you, amid all the constant repositioning, to look out for power-ups that recharge your dying battery. Other design choices further suggest a rebellious vision of the genre. A couple of the nine selectable characters don’t fire bullets, demanding one to rethink how to carve out paths in claustrophobic situations. For most playable heroes, a dodge move is automatically initiated before and after you fire a secondary weapon that must charge back up for another shot, forcing unusual foresight for evasion. These innovations come packaged with brilliant work by musician Jeff van Dyck, who, when your battery runs out, punctuates your failure with a five-minute song that makes ample use of AutoTune, campily and convincingly expressing the pathos of a defeated robotic hero: “I’m not half the droid I used to be. I’m not half the droid I want to be.” Pressgrove

The 25 Best Video Games of 2016

4

Severed

It wasn’t terribly long ago that tech/gaming bloggers preached of the end of the console gaming world as we know it, and that the sword of Damocles would have the App Store logo engraved on it. Severed, in a strange sort of way, feels like the ultimate in thumbed noses to that doomsaying, taking a very mobile-game concept—an RPG where you slay enemies by slashing their limbs off using the touchscreen—and not just adding a console game’s depth and artistry, but using the framework to tell a deeply affecting tale about loss and grief. It’s a delicate balance to strike, but DrinkBox Studios, fresh off the firmly tongue-in-cheek Guacamelee!, makes it seem effortless, like this is the kind of RPG we get all the time, instead of a beautifully innovative gem, one that might very well be the last of its kind. Clark

The 25 Best Video Games of 2016

3

Overwatch

Overwatch is a game that succeeds in spite of itself. There’s nothing inherently special about Yet Another Multiplayer Shooter, especially one so profoundly threadbare in terms of modes of play compared to its peers. Yet, like Team Fortress 2 before it, the game is an incredible triumph due to the world built around it. It’s a place of bountiful color, dizzying heights, and wide-eyed, uncynical heroes, defined by the smallest interactions between its wildly diverse cast of characters at any given moment during gameplay. To switch characters in Overwatch is to play an entirely different game every single time, with an entirely new story and gameplay. The only truly common thread in each match is the ever-present need for teamwork, where killing the most players might help, but still represents a path to failure without a group of compatriots willing to sacrifice glory for the greater goal. This is the first-person multiplayer shooter at its inclusionary best. Clark

The 25 Best Video Games of 2016

2

Titanfall 2

Given its predecessor’s sole emphasis on multiplayer matches, it’s almost shocking that Titanfall 2 sets such a high bar for single-player missions. The game’s focus on the creative integration of wall-running, double-jumping, sliding, shooting, and melee attacks makes even the tutorial section a blast. More importantly, this highly customizable action encourages the player to take risks that would be suicidal or impossible in everyday first-person shooters. But that’s only half the fun: Titanfall 2 ingeniously alternates between this fluid soldier-based play and weighty, deliberate mech face-offs—a juxtaposition of styles cleverly hammered home by the dialogue between the go-getter pilot and Spock-like AI of the walking machine. Everything in the campaign is designed to give you a rush, from laughably over-the-top villains to the remarkably fast burrowing through tight places to platforming sections that will make you think you’re seeing sideways. The greatness of the game’s campaign raises a controversial question in our globalized world: Who needs an Internet connection or other players when the proceedings are this electrifying alone? Pressgrove

The 25 Best Video Games of 2016

1

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

There’s an old moral lesson in which, after discovering that the perilously recovered treasure chest was empty, the hero realizes that the true reward was the quest itself. There’s no such moral lesson in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, which is both a rewarding adventure in and of itself and an overflowing bounty of innovation, a last-hurrah that throws everything at its fans without ever once feeling derivative. There are daring escapes from Panamanian jails, shootouts at an Italian manor’s gala, car chases through the streets of modern King’s Bay—and that’s hardly scratching the surface. The graphics come uncannily close to the game’s cinematic aspirations, a new grappling hook mechanic enhances the already epic gunfights, and sequences in the Madagascan outback add a much-needed dose of semi-open-world exploration to the series. Despite needing to encompass all of these features, the ambitious story never feels stretched or shoehorned, and delivers an emotional closure to the series as protagonist Nathan Drake must choose between his gilded obsessions and the life of his rogue brother, Sam. Given all that, Uncharted 4 avoids another moral: You can’t have too much of a good thing. Riccio

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